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Ds13 with Aspergers and trouble with English Lit.


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My ds13 has Asperger's and is having an extremely difficult time with Keystone's English 1 class. He has trouble understanding the meaning of what's he reading. He understands only the surface level. For example, today we read Thank You Ma'am by Langston Hughes. The story is about a boy who tries to snatch a woman's purse and she takes him home to wash his face and feed him, understanding where he comes from and hoping to make a difference in his life. My son couldn't get past the idea that the woman was kidnapping the boy because she wouldn't let him go and she took him to her apartment. Because he couldn't get past that bit, the meaning of the story was totally lost on him. He didn't "get" The Birds either and thought it was pointless. I withdrew him from the class today. He's doing fine in his other classes, but English is going to be really tough.

 

DH is adamant that our children earn an accredited high school diploma, and I believe all high school English courses, from traditional schools, are going to be similar. Also, colleges in Georgia expect high schoolers to have 4 years of English: Grammar and Usage, American English, World Literature/British Lit., and Advanced Composition.

 

I'm wondering if something like Lightning Literature might prepare him for high school literature. I'm even wondering if I should order the 7th grade level because I really have no idea where to even begin. Basically he doesn't always understand the deeper meanings in stories, he doesn't answer prediction type questions well, and he gets upset when he's asked to write creatively in any subject. I think he needs smaller assignments that I can have him do independently because he is way too dependent on me to pull him along. Would Lightning Literature be a good option? Is there something else I should consider? Do I have any other options for covering American English, World Literature and Advanced Composition that I could get Keystone to accept for credit towards his high school diploma?

 

Any thoughts or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

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I have no idea what Keystone would or would not accept, but this seems like an issue for negotiation with them. Aspies are wired neurologically to read things literally and concretely. That is how their brains come; it's a physical aspect of their make-up and it's extremely difficult for them to learn to think differently. Symbolism, metaphors, motivations of characters, nuances of story mood, are all just incredibly difficult for them -- if not downright impossible. A literature program based in these aspects of literature is going to be detrimental to their education rather than helpful, and Keystone needs to know that and work with you to come up with something acceptable for their purposes and workable for your son.

 

I have discovered two things working with my daughter (now 14).

 

First, the typical genres that school lit programs focus on are just about the worst genres for Aspies to try to work with: social realism (Steinbeck, for instance), lyrical memoir (something like When I Was Puerto Rican), character-driven novels like The Old Man and the Sea or Moby Dick, are all bad fits. We have had much better luck with pre-20th century books, from the Sherlock Holmes stories to Shakespeare to Chaucer. Many Aspies also are attracted to alternative modern genres such as science fiction, fantasy, or non-fiction writing (science, essays, history, etc.).

 

So one thing to consider is making up your own literature list with a different emphasis: books that are more plot-centered, as are many earlier texts, or genres that Aspies tend to like more. All these genres are perfectly respectable. There are brilliantly written, elegant, and extremely literary examples of everything from sci fi to the history of private life in medieval Europe. Elite high schools and colleges offer classes in all these different genres. It's not like there is anything sacrosanct about the typical book list high school kids get.

 

Second, writing about literary elements or aspects of a story is only one kind of literary criticism. It's the only kind we usually see our kids being asked to handle, but again, there's nothing that says this is the highest form of writing or the only way to go. My daughter finds writing about historical elements of literature much more interesting and accessible. Aspies can investigate the beginnings of a genre they love and trace its development (for example, read an early detective novel from Victorian England, or a science fiction novel, and then discuss the way a current novel uses the elements first established historically, how it departs from them, etc.). They can write a research paper on a factual element in the novel (an element of science and technology and its use in a sci fi book).

 

They can also begin to figure out how conventions work. My daughter became interested in finding the hero's sidekicks in fantasy novels and now has developed a whole list of things to expect in that genre. These are concrete things, not abstractions: magical powers, magical objects, animals that talk or communicate with humans, journey into the forest, etc. You don't have to go any further with them symbolically to make this a valuable exercise. Compare conventions in several different genres.

 

Another valuable exercise is to have your child compare a book with its movie version(s). My daughter has found it hard work but fascinating to compare different productions of a Shakespeare play, but you can do the same kind of thing -- which she also does -- with A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, or Lord of the Rings, or whatever your child's interest is caught by. There will be times when different characters say things in the movie compared to the book: why? How does the movie get across scenes where a character is thinking in the book? What gets cut and what effect does it have? Most adolescents can become interested in special effects, design, and other related issues you can then compare with how the book does the same thing with words. Taking favorite scenes and writing the up in different formats -- say, making a radio play out of a chapter from Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles -- are fun to do (especially if you record yourselves and sound effects) and part of a process of discovering and specifying how printed books differ from movies and other productions.

 

These are just a few suggestions that might help you come up with a plan to propose when you talk to the Keystone people. Remember that a conventional, boxed literature curriculum is BY ITS VERY NATURE not going to work with an Aspie child who thinks literally and does not fathom character motivation. It's not a valid educational strategy to ask such a child to do what he neurologically cannot comprehend. And there are a variety of options far better suited to Asperger's ways of thinking, which will also help them retain their love of reading.

 

P.S. Sorry this is so very long! I tend to get carried away on this topic as I have thought about it so much over the years and get so upset at the unthinking bias toward neurotypical kids that literature curricula tend to have.

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I can totally relate.

 

My Aspie has troubles too with analyzing material below the surface level.

Aspies are not wired to be able to read below the surface. They need things spelled out for them. So you may have to tell him what is below the surface and then help him understand it. He may never fully get it, but maybe enough to get through the assignments.

 

Have you talked to Keystone about his difficulties? Not sure how it would work with on-line programs.. but he could qualify for an IEP. So maybe he would be able to replace some aspects of his English requirements to something else. Since your Dh wants the accredited course... Maybe instead of doing English 1 course, he could do an accredited writing course (without literature analysis).

 

And separate from Keystone you could be working with him in strengthening his analyzing literature at his pace. The list of courses you have mentioned allows grammar/usage and composition course... so instead of doing literature based course.. do these first. Do the literature based courses in Jr and Sr years as he will have had more time to mature and with you working on him gradually, he likely will be more prepared to handle the ambiguity of literature meanings.

 

Not sure if I typed this well... I hope it makes sense.

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I know my son has Aspergers and I know it's a neurological condition.

 

I also know that I have no head for pulling together a program from scratch. No matter how easy some of you say it is, I'm about as able to do that as my son is to analyze literature without any previously learned skills. I most definitely need a program of some kind, and must have a schedule. I've tried several times over the past 10 years to create programs in different subjects, and every single attempt failed. We have done our best homeschooling with scheduled programs like Calvert, K12, and Keystone.

 

Keystone has no accommodations for special needs students.

 

Gosh, you ladies make it sound so easy. I wish I was as creative as you are! But I'm no more creative than my son. ;) I simply must have a program that explains how to read a story and that asks deeper questions than 'what color is the truck' type questions. He needs to understand what plot, character, setting, climax, and foreshadowing is before being asked to write about them.

 

I have to wonder though, even if I did depart from tradition and create my own program to suit his needs, how would that prepare him for the required college courses like English 101 and 102? And to cover my butt here, I've always tweaked his courses to suit his needs and I can see where that was a big mistake that I wish I could go back and change. I know I can't force him to think differently, but I could have asked him to write a sentence or two each day to get used to handwriting, or to read at least one story per week so he wouldn't turn into a total non-reader like he is today, or have him write out some math problems on paper instead of the whiteboard so he wouldn't become so dependent on it that he refuses to write on paper. I've learned the hard way that I totally missed the mark on knowing when to tweak things to suit him and when to help him challenge himself to push past his comfort zone just a little.

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I spoke with Keystone. They'll accept a homeschool class as transfer credit as long as I provide the name of the text(s), book(s), and a log of 90 hours for a half credit, or 180 hours for a full credit. I'm going to contact their Guidance department and see if they can sort or preapprove my ideas so I don't waste our time doing something that won't fill his English requirements.

 

But this doesn't mean I can pull my own program together. I'm looking at Eng Lit suggestions on this board. :) It would be super nice if someone provided programs for kids like my son who have trouble with the literature part of English. In public school, I guess he would be put into a remedial type English course.

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Well, literature and art are open to interpretation. When I've taught lit in a co-op to a class I've always gotten different responses from different kids. Some kids "get" the "correct" answers and others do not "get" it. I always accept an answer that can be supported logically. After discussing the point, I've told them the "correct" answer from my point of view. (or from the teacher's manual when we've used a textbook).

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Whatever you decide to go with at the high school level, don't worry so much about college level English. Many universities (like the University of California) require a freshman writing class, but not a literature class. Writing programs vary dramatically from the Great Books (literary analysis) kind of course to a freshman introduction in how to write for different majors (science, tech, humanities, etc.). Not only that, but awareness of Asperger's is growing at universities and colleges to the point that if your son were to end up in a literary analysis class he could quite probably discuss options in terms of writing assignments with the professor, and between them they could figure out an alternative to the classic symbolism/metaphor/motivation paper.

 

I'm not saying you shouldn't keep plugging away at basic literary elements. But it doesn't sound as though that's his focus or strength, and there are a number of options even at the college level, particularly if he's got a written diagnosis in hand. He would be well served by an emphasis on analyzing and writing arguments in a non-fiction context, which would transfer over into many areas of college writing.

 

 

Edited to add: Have you looked at Literary Lessons from Lord of the Rings? I've seen many rave reviews of it on these boards and the fantasy genre often is a better bet than social realism for an Asperger's kid. That might give you the structure you are wanting as well as a progression of kinds of questions and discussions of the text.

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I have a possible aspie, too, and those discussions about lit were tough. Made me want to give up, some days.

One thing that seemed to work was just to tell him the answer I was looking for, instead of asking him to find it, and then going back thru and explaining it. After a good long while of that, I asked him to do little bits of the process. Once he sort of figured out how to do it and what we were looking for, he occasionally got the answer on his own. But it was still frustrating.

 

Then he went to college--and guess what?! He did pretty well in his Reading Film, Russian Cinema and English 101 (the equivalent, called something else). Seeing the symbols and discussing what was VISUAL really, really helped. He now sees a lot more metaphor, symbolism, etc. Something about the visual aspect seemed to help it make sense.

So, I'd say practice, practice, practice; give the answer and then work backwards; present the search in other terms (movies, games, etc).

 

There is also a curriculum that is just for literary analysis--I can't think of the name, but it presents each little element, then shows it in action in a snippet of a classic/well-known work. I'll look and see if I can find it. Perhaps seeing lots of examples can help.

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This is probably a stupid idea, since I know nothing about aspergers, but couldn't he write a paper arguing that the woman, despite her best intentions, was wrong to take the boy home, that that was kidnapping? Or a paper about how The Birds is stupid? Can he give you reasons why he thinks these things are true? Can he point to the places in the book that make him think this? If so, then he should be able to write a paper about it. My children have written papers like that before. None of us are interested in symbolism papers here : ) I can't teach it and my children have not interest in dealing with it. There are plenty of other things to write about. If the story is sort where the whole point is made by indirect means, we avoid it. Short stories are particularly bad because they have to be short so that in order to work well, there has to be a lot implied. I would avoid short stories. Is he able to see how a character changes over the course of a book?

-Nan

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Edited to add: Have you looked at Literary Lessons from Lord of the Rings? I've seen many rave reviews of it on these boards and the fantasy genre often is a better bet than social realism for an Asperger's kid. That might give you the structure you are wanting as well as a progression of kinds of questions and discussions of the text.

 

I showed him that one last night. He said ultimately he didn't care what I chose for him because he doesn't think he's going to understand anything and he really hates creative writing so he's completely unenthusiastic. He said he's not a fan of LoTR. I'm also looking at Lightning Lit, probably 8th grade. I'd like to find out more about Window to the World as well.

 

Believe me, if I could find something that had all non-fiction, that would be great. I could throw in an occasional fiction, but he sure does much better with non-fiction.

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This is probably a stupid idea, since I know nothing about aspergers, but couldn't he write a paper arguing that the woman, despite her best intentions, was wrong to take the boy home, that that was kidnapping?

 

It's not a stupid idea at all. Because he was in an accredited course with Keystone, I was tied to their interpretations and assignments. But I withdrew him and now have the opportunity to tailor English classes to his strengths. I still need to work from a program, but I have the freedom to tweak it. Plus, the programs I'm looking at have multiple writing suggestions, not just one.

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have you looked at Figuratively Speaking? There's also one on the page after it, up on the top, in the new RR catty that looks good, too--may help get some terms and examples under his belt.

 

Dare I confess I threw the RR catalog away without even opening it? :)

 

I'll take a look at Figuratively Speaking. Thanks.

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I can relate to your post; my 13yo is very Aspergerish, although he's not been diagnosed. He can answer factual questions, and make predictions fairly well, but when asked about a character's motivation, or reading between the lines to discover things about a character, etc., it makes no sense to him. He reminds me of some engineering majors who ended up in a Contemporary European Fiction class I took in college!

 

I'm thinking of using Movies as Literature with him, and having him compare the book to the movie. Also, just reading aloud and discussing as we go is helpful, I think. I demonstrate to him by the comments I make, how I draw conclusions and infer things as I read. But I really don't know if he will ever really get it! He's taking a literature class at co-op next year; I hope being in class discussions with other kids will be helpful for him, too.

 

I have a hard time getting him to analyze literature; he just wants to read the book and call it good. I find myself trying to relate the concepts to anime and manga (which he's obsessed with). For example, the Naruto series is a "coming of age" story, with the protagonist learning and growing through his encounters and relationships with others. So we related that to the book we were reading. What's your ds obsessed with? :-)

 

Wendi

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So we related that to the book we were reading. What's your ds obsessed with? :-)

 

Wendi

 

Video games. That will horrify many people here, but it is what it is. He knows an insane amount about games and game systems. It really shows when we're doing History. He can relate almost everything we study in History to something he's played or read about. In fact, he often knows the topic before we really begin it.

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Have you looked at Movies as Literature? We are trying lit analysis for the first time this year. I am holding Movies as Literature in reserve in case Lightening Lit. doesn't work our. I am also going to be willing to let him read Spark Notes if it helps him understand more.

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Video games. That will horrify many people here, but it is what it is. He knows an insane amount about games and game systems. It really shows when we're doing History. He can relate almost everything we study in History to something he's played or read about. In fact, he often knows the topic before we really begin it.

 

I am not horrified.... I know exactly what it is like!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

My Aspie loves the computer and the games. Thankfully I can get him off.. just dangle a new science book in front of him and he is off the game-LOL.

 

My youngest is much more difficult. His only "life" is video games and TV. What I mean is that when he isn't playing them he is imitating them. He isn't an Aspie but is dx Autism Spectrum. It isn't so horrible now, but when younger he would get so obsessed that we had to ban the "offending" video game or tv show. Of course he would find another to replace the obessed one, but at least it saves us for a few days of the worst of it. He used to drive his poor teachers crazy acting out the video games in class (he attends ps still)!!! He has obssessed Dora, Go Diego Go, Harry Potter, Super Mario, Qbert, PacMan, Metroid, Ninja Warrior and the various versions, Guitar Hero, Rock Star (I think that is what it is called; it is the guitar hero drums), Scooby Doo, and more that I can't remember. Nearly all of his writing is to do with his latest obsession or his "default" obsession of Metroid.

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Video games. That will horrify many people here, but it is what it is. He knows an insane amount about games and game systems. It really shows when we're doing History. He can relate almost everything we study in History to something he's played or read about. In fact, he often knows the topic before we really begin it.

 

:lol::lol:

 

Not horrified at all. My 13 yo is ASD and obsessed with video games too. I wanted to throw in that he did Lightning Lit 7 this past year with complete success. The only unit he really struggled with was Alice in Wonderland which in the analysis worksheets asked him to create nonsense words and combine words to make new creatures - things like that. He hated that one. Otherwise, he got through it all quite smoothly. We are planning to do LL8 this coming year. I hope it goes as well. It was logical and literal enough that he could follow it easily. If they introduced a literary element, they gave the exact meaning and/or examples and he could apply that to what he read. I combined it with Jump In for writing and Wordly Wise to fill out Language Arts. Maybe you could do the same?

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I am reading this thread with interest. My DD does well with the Lit in SL, since it's history based and straightforward, without analysis questions, but is struggling with the Lit for K12's Intermediate English A right now. We considered LL.

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Have you looked at Movies as Literature?

 

I really like the look of it, but I'm hesitant because it doesn't look like a regular English course. I'm torn between finding something low level enough that he can learn with, and finding something that I can get our accredited high school program to accept as a transfer credit. I may have to let that second part go for now.

 

Ok, so what he is good at is systems, complex systems. People who are good at that are very, very valuable in many real-life areas. Awesome.

-Nan

 

Yes, I see that too. He doesn't. :tongue_smilie: But, he is excited about the first elective he's chosen, Game Design with Keystone. I hope it goes well.

 

I wanted to throw in that he did Lightning Lit 7 this past year with complete success.

 

I'm happy to hear that. I've been looking at both levels of LL. I wish I could sit down and look through them instead of relying on one chapter sample from every program I'm interested in doing. :)

 

Why did you need to add Jump In to LL? Is there not enough writing in LL?

 

I haven't had to work this hard at choosing a curriculum in years! This is even tougher than the math decision I face last month for dd12 and I thought that was bad. :)

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No, there is not enough writing it LL. There is very little actually. There is one writing assignment at the end of each chapter (book or poem). There are worksheets too, but they didn't count as writing to me. If he had only done the writing in LL 7 it would have been about 5 individual paragraphs, 3 poems and one 5 paragraph essay for the year. LL gives 3-4 writing assignments to choose from for each chapter. Ds usually chose the shortest, easiest assignment. Sometimes I chose for him :D. While some assignments were longer, some of these were also the ones that he would not have "gotten" when it came to meaning.

 

My ds is weak in writing, so I make sure he does a LOT of it. Jump In was terrific. It held his hand through each assignment. It is mostly 5 paragraph essays in various styles although there is some variety. We really liked it here and I saw improvement from it too - always a plus. If you combine that with something like LL, even doing LL7 would probably be enough. Otherwise LL8 is a lot more than LL7 (number of units, amount of reading) and might be more appropriate for him.

 

I have both LL7 & LL8 on my shelf. If you were close I'd invite you to come over and browse. As it is, I'd be glad to answer any questions or compare in any way I can. I haven't used 8 yet, so I can't speak from experience there, but I can look at it.

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I am reading this thread with interest. My DD does well with the Lit in SL, since it's history based and straightforward, without analysis questions, but is struggling with the Lit for K12's Intermediate English A right now. We considered LL.

 

We do sonlight and LL together. I added the LL7 as a gentle introduction to analysis this past year and was VERY pleased. Ds loves to read, so quantity of reading is never an issue. Understanding different perspectives and taking time to think about books is.

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DS, now 21, wasn't diagnosed until he was about 17 but we knew something was going on. He seemed a couple of years behind in maturity, understanding, etc. And very literal.

 

With a diagnosis, knowing what he was dealing with, we started watching movies together and asked questions during.... why did he do that? What do you think she was thinking? Using movies to help read faces, emotions, motives really helped. If you did a classic movie and then a lit. guide, that may help him "see" what is going on.

 

He did better with a literature guide, like Progeny Press.

 

Writing assignments on the computer sparked him, too.

 

Give him time. He'll get there.

 

Anne

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Take a look at this unit for learning to "write a novel" from Little Blue School. It really doesn't go all the way through writing a whole novel, but it does teach parts of a novel like hero, villain, setting, plot, conflict, etc. My kids had a really good time with it. We used examples from books that they liked as well as movies that had strong story lines. I felt that it gave them a much better grasp of how the parts of a story fit together than they had previously.

 

This might be something that you could do to give him a framework for the parts of a work of fiction. Then you could use it as a basis for questions on what he reads like:

Who is the hero?

Does he have a fatal flaw?

Who is the villain?

Does he have any good attributes?

What does the hero want?

What does the villain want?

How do the goals of the hero and the villain create the conflict for the story?

How is the conflict resolved? (ie, Who wins? or Is there a third way that solves the conflict?

Where is the story set?

Does it have to be set there? (ie, How does the setting contribute something to the story?)

Could the same conflict be set somewhere or some time else?

Does the conflict remind you of any other story you've read?

 

These type of questions would move you beyond the narration level of this happened, then this happened detail questions. But I think that they don't go too far into why type motivation questions that your ds might find perplexing.

 

Would it work to have a standard set of questions that he answered for each literary work that he read?

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Would it work to have a standard set of questions that he answered for each literary work that he read?

 

I'm not sure, but it couldn't hurt to try. We decided to try Literary Lessons from The Lord of the Rings for him, going slowly. DH said if it didn't look like a good fit, at least our youngest dd would really like it. I'm going to print out your questions and see what else I can find on this forum that might help. Thanks!

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I have no idea what Keystone would or would not accept, but this seems like an issue for negotiation with them. Aspies are wired neurologically to read things literally and concretely. That is how their brains come; it's a physical aspect of their make-up and it's extremely difficult for them to learn to think differently. Symbolism, metaphors, motivations of characters, nuances of story mood, are all just incredibly difficult for them -- if not downright impossible. A literature program based in these aspects of literature is going to be detrimental to their education rather than helpful, and Keystone needs to know that and work with you to come up with something acceptable for their purposes and workable for your son.

 

I have discovered two things working with my daughter (now 14).

 

First, the typical genres that school lit programs focus on are just about the worst genres for Aspies to try to work with: social realism (Steinbeck, for instance), lyrical memoir (something like When I Was Puerto Rican), character-driven novels like The Old Man and the Sea or Moby Dick, are all bad fits. We have had much better luck with pre-20th century books, from the Sherlock Holmes stories to Shakespeare to Chaucer. Many Aspies also are attracted to alternative modern genres such as science fiction, fantasy, or non-fiction writing (science, essays, history, etc.).

 

So one thing to consider is making up your own literature list with a different emphasis: books that are more plot-centered, as are many earlier texts, or genres that Aspies tend to like more. All these genres are perfectly respectable. There are brilliantly written, elegant, and extremely literary examples of everything from sci fi to the history of private life in medieval Europe. Elite high schools and colleges offer classes in all these different genres. It's not like there is anything sacrosanct about the typical book list high school kids get.

 

Second, writing about literary elements or aspects of a story is only one kind of literary criticism. It's the only kind we usually see our kids being asked to handle, but again, there's nothing that says this is the highest form of writing or the only way to go. My daughter finds writing about historical elements of literature much more interesting and accessible. Aspies can investigate the beginnings of a genre they love and trace its development (for example, read an early detective novel from Victorian England, or a science fiction novel, and then discuss the way a current novel uses the elements first established historically, how it departs from them, etc.). They can write a research paper on a factual element in the novel (an element of science and technology and its use in a sci fi book).

 

They can also begin to figure out how conventions work. My daughter became interested in finding the hero's sidekicks in fantasy novels and now has developed a whole list of things to expect in that genre. These are concrete things, not abstractions: magical powers, magical objects, animals that talk or communicate with humans, journey into the forest, etc. You don't have to go any further with them symbolically to make this a valuable exercise. Compare conventions in several different genres.

 

Another valuable exercise is to have your child compare a book with its movie version(s). My daughter has found it hard work but fascinating to compare different productions of a Shakespeare play, but you can do the same kind of thing -- which she also does -- with A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, or Lord of the Rings, or whatever your child's interest is caught by. There will be times when different characters say things in the movie compared to the book: why? How does the movie get across scenes where a character is thinking in the book? What gets cut and what effect does it have? Most adolescents can become interested in special effects, design, and other related issues you can then compare with how the book does the same thing with words. Taking favorite scenes and writing the up in different formats -- say, making a radio play out of a chapter from Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles -- are fun to do (especially if you record yourselves and sound effects) and part of a process of discovering and specifying how printed books differ from movies and other productions.

 

These are just a few suggestions that might help you come up with a plan to propose when you talk to the Keystone people. Remember that a conventional, boxed literature curriculum is BY ITS VERY NATURE not going to work with an Aspie child who thinks literally and does not fathom character motivation. It's not a valid educational strategy to ask such a child to do what he neurologically cannot comprehend. And there are a variety of options far better suited to Asperger's ways of thinking, which will also help them retain their love of reading.

 

P.S. Sorry this is so very long! I tend to get carried away on this topic as I have thought about it so much over the years and get so upset at the unthinking bias toward neurotypical kids that literature curricula tend to have.

Good points. :iagree:

 

We did the Old Man and the Sea by Hemingway this Spring and my bordeline Aspie teen just HATED the book. We did lit analysis with a teacher's manual and he had a tough time understanding the character's POV. I had him read Prince Caspian and he loved the book -- but despised Progeny Press' method of analysis. It killed us both. :glare:

 

So, for 10th grade, I am going with The Hobbit, The Once and Future King, and some fantasy lit or humor like Douglas Adams. I want to have him read To Kill A Mockingbird, but realize I have to ADAPT the lit questions to his strengths for successful anaylsis. Discussions help rather than paper and pen projects. I use creative analytical lessons to help make the book come alive. We will be comparing the 1980's Hobbit (animated) version with the book. I hear there is a movie being created for The Hobbit too? We cover the needed literature skills but I come up with it on my own. I also hate the prepackaged lit curriculum as it does not fit kids who are Special Ed. :glare: They look at it from a whole different angle.

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I have a possible aspie, too, and those discussions about lit were tough. Made me want to give up, some days.

One thing that seemed to work was just to tell him the answer I was looking for, instead of asking him to find it, and then going back thru and explaining it. After a good long while of that, I asked him to do little bits of the process. Once he sort of figured out how to do it and what we were looking for, he occasionally got the answer on his own. But it was still frustrating.

 

 

I do this method (oral discussion) instead of having him write the answer down -- it helps him understand the main concept. I tend to draw (using a whiteboard) the analysis of a plot, for example, in comparision to hiking up a mountain.

 

http://www.pittsfordschools.org/webpages/rzogby/files/PlotStructureshort.pdf

 

It is like little steps to have him master the concept. When he does get it, it is fun to see him apply it in a TV show or video game! ;)

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My ds13 has Asperger's and is having an extremely difficult time with Keystone's English 1 class. He has trouble understanding the meaning of what's he reading. He understands only the surface level. For example, today we read Thank You Ma'am by Langston Hughes. The story is about a boy who tries to snatch a woman's purse and she takes him home to wash his face and feed him, understanding where he comes from and hoping to make a difference in his life. My son couldn't get past the idea that the woman was kidnapping the boy because she wouldn't let him go and she took him to her apartment. Because he couldn't get past that bit, the meaning of the story was totally lost on him. He didn't "get" The Birds either and thought it was pointless. I withdrew him from the class today. He's doing fine in his other classes, but English is going to be really tough.

 

DH is adamant that our children earn an accredited high school diploma, and I believe all high school English courses, from traditional schools, are going to be similar. Also, colleges in Georgia expect high schoolers to have 4 years of English: Grammar and Usage, American English, World Literature/British Lit., and Advanced Composition.

 

I'm wondering if something like Lightning Literature might prepare him for high school literature. I'm even wondering if I should order the 7th grade level because I really have no idea where to even begin. Basically he doesn't always understand the deeper meanings in stories, he doesn't answer prediction type questions well, and he gets upset when he's asked to write creatively in any subject. I think he needs smaller assignments that I can have him do independently because he is way too dependent on me to pull him along. Would Lightning Literature be a good option? Is there something else I should consider? Do I have any other options for covering American English, World Literature and Advanced Composition that I could get Keystone to accept for credit towards his high school diploma?

 

Any thoughts or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

 

Okay, two thoughts:

 

I'm sure you understand this much better than I do, but my understanding of ASDs is that grasping symbolic, metaphoric, or analogical thinking will always be a problem. If I may make a comparison, it's like attempting to compel a person with red-green colorblindness to differentiate between red and green. It's not that person's "fault" that he can't see the difference: it's the way he's built.

 

I understand your husband's desire to have your son get a diploma, but even in a schooled situation, he would be under an IEP and would probably be receiving extra tutoring -- and even so, those same difficulties would present themselves.

 

The practical solution I have is this:

 

1. Start with sayings and fables. Go through many sayings and fables and discuss the difference between small-scale (literal) meaning and large-scale (nonliteral) meaning. Use phrases like "bigger message" or "larger message" fairly consistently.

 

2. Read Thomas Foster's How to Read Literature Like a Professor and focus on the patterns Foster reminds readers to look forin a work of literature -- ideas you can think of as "frequent-flier" symbols or ideas -- the motif of the quest, of communion, of sacrifice, and so on. Point out literature he may be familiar with that uses these motifs. Point out the connections between them. Ultimately, he may just have to memorize certain ideas or conventions, e.g., "If a person leaves home, it's probably a quest motif," or "If people eat together, it might be a communion scene," and so on.

 

3. Go through common symbols in everyday life, such as the symbolism of color -- i.e., red=blood, passion, love; black=death, sadness, mourning, and so on. Have him memorize them and be aware that if he reads a work of literature, those symbols may crop up.

 

I hope this helps a bit. I sympathize with your problem.

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The first "literature study" that my ds did in 7th was Maniac Magee from Progeny Press. It seems like it might fit the bill for your son, maybe to do over the summer.

 

The book includes something similar to the "kidnapping" -- it's a boy who "runs away." However, the PP guide begins by discussing "legends" and tries to have the child compare "legend qualities" from say Paul Bunyan to the story of Maniac.

 

It also very gently introduces other themes that are not obvious, such as prejudices.

 

It's no literary giant, but the study was a good transition step for my ds. My ds doesn't have aspie traits, but my older dd had some traits so I'm thinking in terms of someone like her.

 

Just a thought,

Julie

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My son (somewhere on the 'spectrum,' probably more aspie than anything else) did very well with LL. We started with LL 7 when he was in 8th grade, and it was a great introduction -- done very concretely, not abstractly -- to literature analysis.

 

It helps alot with aspie kids that the writing assignments have options to choose from, btw.

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It helps alot with aspie kids that the writing assignments have options to choose from, btw.

 

Yes, I definitely believe this is true for my son. I was looking at separate writing programs to add to LotR but decided it wasn't worth the money. They focus on writing the typical essays: narrative, expository, persuasive, and compare/contrast. I can do that using LotR if they don't have a good essay choice.

 

Lightning Literature is my next choice in line if LotR doesn't work. DH wanted to start with LotR because all our children will benefit from it, and if ds13 doesn't do well or doesn't like it, we're going to try LL and continue the girls with LotR.

 

As for sayings and fables, he doesn't have a problem with those. He understood fables when he was young. Maybe because it's shorter? DH and I are also wondering if ds13 is so absolutely disinterested in the material that he slap doesn't care to try. This is one reason we are trying LotR. It might spark his interest. He says he doesn't care to read it but once he starts he might like it. The last book he read was a year ago and it was Tom Sawyer, which he absolutely loved. Yes, a year ago! I gave up on LA when the 7th grade K12 didn't work. He did fine with me tweaking their 5th and 6th grade levels but for some reason, 7th just didn't fly. Maybe we were just really tired of it.

 

Anyway, thanks for all the continued comments! I worried I wouldn't hear from anyone. :)

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The University of Missouri high school course division has at least once course on mysteries which should be much easier for a ASD. I think they also have a science fiction genre course. They and a number of other university high school providers have courses on writing, and vocabulary and grammar that count as English credits.

 

FOr college, I would be looking for a college that has writing classes that are tied to different subjects. One college we are looking at has many sections of the writing class and each has a different topic that would be explored. Some were very conducive to literal minded people- something like global food networks or something like that.

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